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article imageHuge diversity of spiders and other arthropods in homes

By Tim Sandle     Jan 26, 2016 in Environment
What types of spiders and other arthropods are lurking in your home? A new U.S. based study reveals considerable diversity, with up to 500 different species.
In the first major study to evaluate the biodiversity of arthropods in homes has found that we share our residences with over 500 different kinds of arthropods. Arthropods are invertebrate animals with exoskeletons, segmented bodies and jointed limbs. Included within this classification are spiders, mites and centipedes. Taxonomically there are insects, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans.
The extent of the diversity of different species came as a surprise to the researchers. The unexpected numbers of different species arose partly because no one had undertaken such a study before.
The idea to carry out the study was based on a new research initiative called "Arthropods of Our Homes." For the study, etymologists visited 50 free-standing houses located within a 30 mile radius of Raleigh, North Carolina. Samples were gathered over a six-month period, covering spring and summer.
The first thing to note is the limitations of geography and seasons. The results of the study do not necessarily extend out to other parts of the U.S. and they cannot be said to be global. Nevertheless, for the region examined, the findings are interesting.
In the 50 homes, some 579 different morphospecies of arthropod were identified. A morphospecies is a taxonomic species based wholly on morphological differences from related species. The typical home had 100 different species — most commonly these were spiders, beetles and ants. Some of the findings were alive and others dead. In general, few of the isolates could be classified as "pests."
Not all of the identified species live in people’s homes. A large number will have wandered in (which again indicates the importance of the surrounding environment or the types of materials taken into the home). Those anthropoids not equipped to the home environment will not live for long. An example found was gall midges (Cecidomyiidae). These were found dead in all 50 homes. These are outdoor living flies, unadapted to live in doors and without a substitute food source.
The research was led by Matt Bertone, an entomologist employed at North Carolina State University. The findings are published in the journal PeerJ, in a paper headed “Arthropods of the great indoors: characterizing diversity inside urban and suburban homes.”
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